"They wiped you out," Buffy said, picking through what remained of Giles' candy.
"Yes, it would seem they did. I should apologize to you." He poured himself a couple fingers of scotch and made his way to the couch.
"Apologize for what?"
"You wanted to patrol and for the second time in recent memory I dismissed you."
Buffy set the bowl on the table behind the couch and shrugged. "Oh, well, patrolling wouldn't have stopped what happened. So, it's no big, Giles. Really."
"Yes, well, I promise to take you more seriously the next time."
"I wish I could say I doubt there will be a next time, but this is Sunnydale."
"True enough." He took a sip of his drink.
"What does that taste like?"
"Hmm, well, it's not something one can describe. Would you like a sip?"
She took a sip and winced. He was right, it wasn't anything she could describe. "You like this stuff?"
"Well, yes. There are varying degrees of quality, as with any liquor, whether it be hard, beer or wine."
"Hmm. I guess it's all right."
"It's somewhat of an acquired taste I guess. In all honesty, I'm not sure I could survive living here without it."
"Well, yes, I'm not working, thus far you've needed my assistance very little."
"Ah. Well, if it makes you feel better, wanna pour me a glass?"
"You want one?"
"Okay, here have the rest of mine I'll get another. Oh, the TV's there, if you want to unbury it I'm sure there are some movies we can laugh at the ridiculousness of together."
"Sure," she said, setting the glass down. She set about doing just that while he went to his kitchen, returning when she was just about to turn the TV on. "I didn't know you had a TV, Giles. The image I've had of you is completely ruined."
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Buffy."
"I'll forgive you. This time." She was just glad he wasn't kicking her out. She didn't want to go back to her dorm room. Willow would be with Oz, which would leave Buffy alone and she didn't want that right now. It seemed like she was always setting herself to be used by demons with her feelings. She wished she could turn them off, but it wasn't so easy. Feelings just led to heartbreak. Giles seemed to understand she didn't want to go home and had allowed her to stay behind after the others had left.
"Oh, look, it's Friday the 13th."
"Have you seen it?"
"Giles, of course, a couple of times. Haven't you?"
"I can't say that I have."
"Well, then, we'll watch it. It's a classic."
"Somehow I sense that your idea of a classic differs considerably from mine."
"Yes, yes, I'll watch it with you. Where'd the bowl of candy go?"
"Right behind you."
"There's not much left."
"Hmm, no, there's not. Just the miniature Tootsie Rolls. Figures, you would clean me out of the good stuff and leave those."
"Hey. Still here."
"Yes, sorry, of course you aren't responsible. Xander, though."
"He's a growing boy."
"Don't those people do anything but have sex?"
"While we've had the TV on, they've done nothing but."
"Okay, I get it."
He smiled in spite of himself. She really preferred to think of him as a man with no desires or needs of his own. He couldn't blame her, he supposed he felt much the same way about his parents at one time.
"What? That's all guys think about anyway. Sex. And once they get it, they turn into jerks."
He knew Buffy's biggest fear was being abandoned and left alone. Angel had done it, her father had done it. It bothered him that she had no positive experience to look back on. Everyone deserved at least one relationship during their formative years that left a positive taste in their mouth.
"That's not entirely true. You can't base lovemaking on your experience with Angel."
"At least not just him."
His eyes widened as he turned his attentions once more to the television. The young women and men in the film were dropping like flies. And of course the perpetrator was unstoppable and showed no signs of stopping. Or being stoppable. He couldn't help but imagine what Buffy might be like against someone like this Jason creature.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were seeing anyone."
"I'm not. I don't know. I don't know what I did wrong, Giles."
"What do you mean?"
He watched as she downed the entire glass of Scotch, not realizing what she'd intended until it was too late to stop her. He smiled at the face she made when she had finished swallowing. It was good Scotch, smooth, but to one not initiated in hard liquor he imagined it was pretty potent stuff.
"I'll be right back."
She went in the direction of the bathroom, leaving Giles to watch the mindless violence on the television screen while he contemplated Buffy. Had something happened? Had someone else hurt her? He had no idea if that was the case. The fears she had were planted deep, they wouldn't be weeded out quickly or with a few kind words. He wished he knew what to do. She was vulnerable in ways that he just wasn't knowledgeable about. There were no instruction manuals when dealing with feelings.
She returned to the couch and he noticed she had poured herself another drink.
"Are you sure you should drink that much, Buffy?"
She shrugged. "Why not? It's not like I'm driving anywhere and if I get really bad I can sleep right here on your couch."
He wasn't sure how good of an idea that was. He had the room, of course. The couch was large enough to sleep on. He'd done it a time or two himself. He realized, though, he probably shouldn't be encouraging her to drink. She was not of legal age. Then again, if she needed to take the edge off, he'd rather she do it here under his supervision.
"You're not going to get all stuffy on me, are you? I'm old enough to slay vampires, surely I can have a drink or two."
"I'm not sure how the two are connected, but go on. Do you have classes in the morning I need to know about?"
"Nope, I sure don't."
"Very well. Perhaps you can tell me the appeal of these movies. Sex and violence rolled into one, but I don't understand what it's supposed to do for you."
"Well," Buffy said. She shifted on the couch, turning to face him and propping one leg on the couch between them. Her eyes met his. He'd noticed before how expressive they were. "I suppose they're great for dates. Girl gets scared, guy comforts girl, girl gets mushy, guy gets lucky."
"Is that how it works?"
She smiled, took a sip of her drink. "I've heard. I wouldn't know. I can't find a guy to stick around me long enough to find out if that sort of thing works."
"You and Angel?"
"No, horror movies weren't high on our agenda. We went to a movie once," she shrugged. "It didn't work out too well."
"So, tell me about this more recent experience."
"There's nothing to say. I met him, he seemed nice. I was wrong, but I still can't help but wonder if I did something wrong."
Giles' first reaction was that whatever had happened it had been awfully quick. He knew for a fact she'd seen no one socially over the summer. And they were only a few weeks into the school year. College was a time for experimentation, he knew that, but it bothered him to think of her giving herself away so casually.
"I'm sure that wasn't the case. These things don't always work out the way we hope they would."
"I just don't get what's wrong with me, Giles. Aren't I pretty?"
"Of course you are, Buffy."
"And while I'm not Willow, I'm smart."
Giles smiled. "Yes, you are at that."
"I mean, I know I'm not going to wow anyone with my intellect, but I can form sentences and stuff."
"Yes, you can."
"And I don't rub it in a guy's face that I'm stronger than he is."
"Yes, some might find that intimidating."
"No, but Angel understood who you were and why you needed your strength."
"But he still left me."
The root of the problem was very basic. "I know, Buffy."
"And now this. I feel like an idiot. I should know better. It took me months to get to the point of sex with Angel. So what made me think rushing into it would go any better for me?"
"I'm sure you didn't rush into anything."
"I did, Giles. I know girls who I thought were just slutty for doing what I did. But I couldn't stop myself. But I really thought," she shrugged, taking another sip. He saw tears swimming in her eyes and it broke his heart. He wanted to hold her, comfort her, but he didn't think it was his place. "I can understand why it would be tempting to just do it and get it over with. If they're going to leave you anyway, you may as well get to the good part right away. Right? Funny thing was, he wasn't even that good. I mean, maybe Angel spoiled me. A couple centuries experience compared to a couple years. But I didn't even get time to enjoy that. Boom. My boyfriend's gone and all of the sudden I'm supposed to kill the man I just made love to. And he wouldn't stop killing for me. He loved me, I know he did, soul or not, but he couldn't stop. He didn't love me enough to stop and just be with me."
"And my dad. Don't even get me started on him. How many times since Mom and I moved to Sunnydale has he blown me off. Ice skating tickets. Graduation."
"I know, I didn't want him at graduation anyway, but he wasn't going to come. My own father wasn't going to see me get my diploma. The man who thought for certain I'd never graduate high school."
Her gaze met his and held, distracted eventually by a peak in the action in the movie. She watched the screen, Giles doubted she would retain anything. Between the heartbreak she was experience and the liquor, he imagined most of the night from the time the others left would be rather hazy.
"Buffy, perhaps we should call it a night. You're still welcome to my couch if you don't want to go back to campus."
She took another sip of her drink. He wondered if she'd heard him. She turned her attention to him once again. Her eyes were intense, searching for something he hoped she saw in him. He could see the hurt, fear and doubt there clearly. He hoped for tonight anyway he was her answer, could ease her mind.
"You would never do that to me."
"Well, of course not, Buffy."
She stretched then and Giles assumed she was going to set her glass down. She surprised him, placing her hand at his shoulder and kissing him. As kisses went it was nice. She certainly was enthusiastic. He was caught, unsure how to proceed. If he didn't kiss her in return she would see that as a slight. And if he did he'd wonder if he wasn't taking advantage of her when she was vulnerable. She was an attractive woman. He'd noticed it before now, of course, but had never thought to act on it. It was just a kiss, he rationalized.
He felt moisture on his shirt at the shoulder and realized she had spilled some of her drink. He drew away briefly and couldn't help but chuckle at her soft whimper in protest. Someone had walked away from this woman? Was he mad? He took the drink from Buffy's hand and set it on the table by the nearly empty candy bowl.
"No worries. It will wash out."
"Waste of good liquor."
"There's always more."
She worked the buttons of his shirt. She was no expert but she wasn't overly clumsy either. He had no doubt undressing someone was not an every day experience for her. She peeled away his shirt and kissed his shoulder. Really, it was more of a lick. Either way, it sent shockwaves through his body. An arm went around her waist as she shifted and wiggled her way onto his lap.
"Mmm, tastes better this way."
"Oh Lord," he murmured. His hand slid to her hair, running through it as she kissed, licked and nuzzled his shoulder and neck. The undershirt he wore didn't seem to pose any sort of a problem to her. He couldn't remember the last time he had a woman seated on his lap in this fashion. College, perhaps a little later, but not since his youth. His body reacted in much the fashion now that it did then. It aroused him. There was something about a woman settling onto his lap, arms around him, rubbing against him no matter how unintentional.
She drew away then, her hair hanging along the side of her face like a tempting curtain of silkiness. She smiled and kissed him again. It occurred to Giles as he parted his lips that he couldn't recall the last time he'd seen her smile like she meant it.
In the background, the slasher horror movie had paved way to something more in line with his tastes. He wasn't sure what movie it was, but from the speech patterns and music he could tell that it was a classic.
"Buffy," he said pulling away. He had to at least try and be the voice of reason.
"What?" She gave the cutest pout. Nobody did it better than Buffy. He wasn't used to being on the receiving end of it in this type of situation.
"You've had quite a bit of Scotch for someone who isn't a drinker. You're tired. Your heart has been on the receiving end of a significant blow after a nasty break up."
"You think I'm using you."
"Well, I wouldn't put it like that exactly."
She brought a finger to her lips, parted them and licked her fingertip. His eyes fell closed at the sight. He was only human after all. Seconds later she had placed a fingertip at his lips, running it over them.
"I know what I'm doing, Giles. Maybe I just want to know what it would be like the right way."
"Buffy, as much as that might appeal to me in the baser sense of things. I'm not a plaything. I have feelings, just as you do, and don't enter into relationships on a whim."
"We've known one another for going on three years. You've seen me at my worst. I've seen you at yours. We've saved the world together, more than once. You've seen my heart get broken. I've seen the same thing happen to you."
"All of which could be construed as convincing arguments, but I can't be sure you're thinking rationally. And our relationship as it is, I can't just have sex with you."
"Well, then, you'll just have to keep me here all night so we can find out in the morning."
"Buffy," he said, grabbing a hold of her arms. She was stronger than him, there was no question of that. When push came to shove, however, he was certain she would see things his way. "Be rational, please. You're welcome to stay the night, here on my couch. This isn't the way to do it, Buffy. I can't give you what you're asking for right now."
"You don't love me?"
"You know I do. Very much. And it's because I do that I can't let this go any further. You'd be liable to hold it against me in the morning. Then where would we be?"
"You think too clearly."
"Yes, I assure you, that thought has gone through my mind a million and one times already in the last five minutes. I wouldn't be a gentleman, or your friend, if I allowed this to proceed."
She pouted, which was almost his undoing. "Okay."
"You sound so devastated. I apologize if I've made you feel that way. You probably won't remember this in the morning anyway."
"Yes, well, let me up. I'll get some blankets for you."
She slid off his lap, he felt the absence of her body against his immediately. He closed his eyes, reassuring himself he was doing the right thing. If she didn't hate him in the morning he would hate himself if he traveled down the road she was looking to go tonight. He stood slowly, grateful she headed in the direction of the bathroom while he set about getting her a blanket and pillow.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com